Until a few days before we arrived, the back part of the house was still isolated from the rest of the place with plywood sealing off the three entrances to the room. By the time Evelin, Celeste, and I arrived, the house was back together and the back wall (which was once windows) was two full-length windows and a french door; however, while the trim work was in place, it wasn't painted and the floors were bare subflooring.
(The bare floors actually worked out pretty well considering that my nieces, A--- and L---, were spilling some food on the ground, and Celeste was throwing a bit of her own.)
Outside, we used one of the painters' ladders to climb up the tree that did the damage to the house to see what we could see. Much of the tree is still in situ; the tree trimmers need to bring a crane to the site to remove another tree (which has one bit hanging ominously over the garage that cannot be removed by a climber), so they decided to wait until then to cut down the rest of the tree that hit the house. Plus, there are two bees nests in the tree, which makes the crane an easier option than getting climbers, bee wranglers, and pest control coördinating on site.
From the ground, the drey in one part of the break was visible, as was some of the scarring and an odd bit of the tree that looked like driftwood. C---, our neighbor, is a forester and she concurred that the driftwood bit was weird looking; she said it looked almost petrified.
Climbing up, however, one could see that the tree wasn't hollow. The cavity had a bunch of dirt, leaves, and litter in it, but it only seemed to go down about a foot. There was a little weed growing up there, too. Since the tree overlooks the deck where much of Thanksgiving would be spent (a beautiful, 75°F day was forecast), my dad put a geranium up in the cavity.
In the afternoon, Evelin, Celeste, and I ran out to the farmstand to buy some fresh strawberries and satsumas, and to the grocery store to pick up some things for Thanksgiving. Celeste already loves strawberries, but fresh Louisiana berries are sooooooooo much better than the ones we get up in Maryland (be it local ones from the farmers market or ones shipped in from California, Florida, or Mexico) that it was almost unfair to let Celeste develop a taste for them. Fortunately for us, she doesn't like citrus at the moment, otherwise I'm sure the satsumas would have pushed her over the edge and she would have demanded we stay there ...
Technoarti tags: Thanksgiving New Orleans Hurricane Katrina tree